Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Shrinking Salamanders

The global warming climate has dramatically changed salamanders body size and has threatened their future. Salamanders in the southern Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia have gotten smaller over the past 50 years due to this climate change. Over the past decade, scientists have observed and documented the decline in salamander body size. Karen Lips, a biologist at University of Maryland wanted to determine the reasoning behind the dropping body size. Lips and her colleagues analyzed more than 9000 salamanders. The salamanders collected after 1980 were 8% smaller than those from decades past. The trend was most prominent in the places that had dramatic temperature increases. According to Lips, salamanders are very sensitive to changes in their surrounding environment because of the way they breathe through the skin. So when there's a temperature increase, their metabolism to increase and causes them to lose more calories and shrink.

Posted by Chelcie C.


  1. Why is it that the salamander's cutaneous respiration make them more susceptible to metabolism increases under higher temperatures? I would imagine it would be less effective as the skin dries, but what is it that makes the effect so pronounced? It really is terrifying to see such a drastic shift due to the relatively minimal climate change we've seen so far.

    -Stephen O'Brien

  2. That's crazy how quickly the climate change is impacting the salamander growth. Are there any negative side effects associated with this smaller size or is it merely just the size itself that is effected by the increased temperatures?
    Posted by Morgan Matuszko

  3. Very interesting how quickly some animals can adapt to their environments and how quickly the salamanders were affected by the slight changes in climate. Will the smaller sized salamanders effect their predators? Maybe making them consume more to fill their appetite?

  4. When I think about global warming, I usually think about how it affects us now and in the future. Never has it crossed my mind that it affects other organisms like salamanders. How will this affect our environments in the future?

    Posted by Amber Vien

  5. This is a very interesting article, especially with another class of amphibians, frogs dying through out the globe at an alarming rate. Did the article note of any other environmental factors that could attribute to the salamanders shrinkage in size, were they collected near relatively populated or undisturbed areas? Also, were there any other physiological changes to the salamanders other than size to note?

    Thomas Flores

  6. Global warming is definitely affecting many different species today. Do you know the exact measurements in the decline of the salamander's bodies?

    Posted by: Lindsey Janof

  7. Very interesting and important article. Was this strictly related to temperature or did the article state ay other sources of concern? You mention Salamanders body size being affected, do it specify which species in the region were hit the hardest?

    Max Liner

  8. Great post! I know that climate changes affect the reptiles very much. But do you know how is the temperature change affect the salamander's metabolic rate exactly?

    -Yim Hui

  9. This was a very interesting post to read. Are there any negative side effects of the smaller size to the salamanders to other organisms in their habitat? Also is this trend of smaller sizes seen in other similar species?
    posted by Kristen whitehead